After three and a half years of missing out on the 2018 World Cup, Italy is starting to return to the big football scene. Thanks to coach Roberto Mancini, the Squadra Azzurra believes in their chance to win the title.
Florence (dpa) – Italy is dreaming of more again. Ahead of the long-awaited start of the European Football Championship with the opening match against Turkey on Friday (9pm / ARD and MagentaTV) in Rome, the Azzurri’s announced goal was the final at Wembley Stadium.
“The title could be a rebirth for football and for the whole country,” said national team coach Roberto Mancini. “The goal is to play the final at Wembley on July 11th.” The Squadra Azzurra will face an unpleasant task in the opening match.
Unpleasant discount at first
Turkey’s national coach Senol Güns has put together a well-trained and defensively strong squad around veteran Burak Yilmaz, who has been described by some as a secret favorite for the title. In the first group with Switzerland and Wales, progress is also the stated minimum goal of the Turks. “There are the top five, the top five countries in Europe: Italy, England, Spain, France and Germany. We want to belong to this elite,” said the 69-year-old, who led Turkey to third place in the 2002 World Cup. A lot depends on the opening match.”
The same goes for the Italians, who are allowed to play their three matches in the preliminary round in Rome in front of their own fans. The Azzurri enter the tournament with a run of 27 consecutive unbeaten matches. The last defeat was against Portugal in September 2018. Recently, Squadra Azzurra has gone eight consecutive times without conceding a goal. “We hope to continue this trend in the European Championship,” said Leonardo Bonucci, who will work with captain Giorgio Chiellini to form the defensive headquarters in front of young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Resurrection of the Italians
The Italians do not have a big star in the team in this European championship. Marco Verratti is likely to take the role, but the 28-year-old midfield manager from PSG is only an option after a knee injury in the second game against Switzerland at the earliest. “Our exceptional player is the team,” Bonucci said. “We don’t have any outstanding players at international level and they can turn matches in a second. But the team made the difference against the big teams.”
It is likely that Mancini will have the greatest part in the resurrection of the Italians after the absence of the World Cup in November 2017. The 56-year-old has restored self-confidence to the team and brought many talents. Shortly before the tournament, the coach extended his contract until 2026. “I am glad I was able to help ensure that the national team regains the respect it deserves,” Manchester City coach Mancini told Galatasaray Istanbul. And Zenit St Petersburg gained international experience.
Mancini had another surprise in store: He called up 21-year-old Giacomo Raspadori, who had previously played U21 EM with Azurini, to his squad. “I hope he does it like Paolo Rossi. He is the future of the national team,” Mancini praised. Rossi was Italy’s top scorer in 1982. Raspadori has also been compared in Italy to striker Toto Schillaci, who in 1990 was the largely unknown top scorer in the Copa del Rey. The world The youngster is considered a substitute for the regular striker Ciro Immobile.
Return of the masses
In addition to attack, defense should also be required against Turkey. In the third place in the 2002 World Cup, high hopes were pinned on the 35-year-old striker Yilmaz. In addition, Guns has strong individualists, including former Bundesliga professional Hakan Calhanoglu and attacking talent Yusuf Yazisin. In the European Championship qualifiers, the Turks could count mainly on their defense against Freiburg-born Caglar Soyenko: in the group with world champion France, the team conceded only three goals in ten matches.
Italy confidently approaches the task, and fans and the media dream of “enchanted nights” again. Above all, the return of some 16,000 fans to the Olympic Stadium inspires dreams of winning the title. Italy has not lost a match on the field in a major tournament. “We survived the end of the world and now we dream of the greatest”, wrote Gazzetta dello Sport, aiming to miss the World Cup. “There will be enchanted nights and the magic is boundless.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210610-99-934632 / 2
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